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Louisiana transgender community celebrates defeat of medical ban, condemn sports ban

By Serena Sojic-Borne

Toni Jones of Real Name Campaign NOLA speaks at a coalition press conference aga

New Orleans, LA – On May 7, a coalition of Louisiana’s progressive organizations gathered at city hall for a press conference on the state legislature’s anti-transgender bills. Supporters came from many ranks of the movement against gender-based oppression. These included fighters for sex workers’ rights, reproductive justice, and trans liberation.

Participants chanted “Protect trans youth!” and “Hands off trans kids!” In a collective statement, the coalition demanded an end to bills targeting trans people. It emphasized that transphobia has nothing to do with the needs of ordinary Louisiana residents. The statement called out the proposed laws for being part of “a cowardly and bigoted attempt to scapegoat and erase trans kids, to let them die and divert attention from social problems.”

This past year, the state legislature has considered two anti-trans bills.

The first tried to prohibit trans youth from accessing gender-affirming medical care without both parents’ consent (House Bill 575 and Senate Bill 104). “These bills would’ve effectively banned healthcare for trans youth and criminalized what I do,” said healthcare worker Cody Smith, representing Louisiana Trans Advocates. The medical ban insultingly entered the legislature on Trans Day of Visibility, but the movement quickly mobilized to shut it down. Over 100 community members came out in protest on April 1, and hundreds more made phone calls throughout the month. The ban would later die before leaving the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

The other bill proposes a ban against trans youth of all ages playing sports (House Bill 542 and Senate Bill 156). Toni Jones of Real Name Campaign laid out that a sports ban “infringes on the freedom and autonomy of trans youth.” It would force kids into medical inspections of their genders, effectively legalizing the sexual assault of minors. The legislation died in the House but passed in the Senate at the urging of Senator Beth Mizell ®. The House Education Committee killed its version of the bill after an outpouring of opposing testimonials at the hearing. This same committee will soon vote on the Senate version of the bill.

Real Name Campaign NOLA, an organization fighting for accessible name and gender marker changes, initiated the press conference, which also highlighted the leading role of Louisiana Trans Advocates. The group spent weeks lobbying day-in and day-out at the capitol. It also organized phone calls and brought people out to share testimonials at the HB 542 committee hearing.

Jessica Frankel of the Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom called trans bodily autonomy a reproductive rights issue. Women With A Vision, an organization that recently pushed for the decriminalization of sex work, spoke in solidarity as well. Lakeesha Harris of WWAV summarized: “Trans people are not up for slaughter, period.”

Endorsements for the conference came from Real Name Campaign NOLA, Freedom Road Socialist Organization – New Orleans, Women With A Vision, Inc., House of Tulip, Mariah Moore’ TIDAL (Trans & Gender Non-Conforming Inclusive Development, Advocacy, & Leadership), Trans Resource Network NOLA, Louisiana Trans Advocates, and Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom.

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